Janie and Fletcher Brown loved their east Boulder property, with its amazing mountain vistas, but after living in their home for several years, they came to the conclusion that the house just wasn’t working for a family with two young children. The floor plan was awkward, its inward-facing rooms were oppressive, and the tiny windows didn’t allow them to watch the kids as they played outside, let alone enjoy the views. “And all I wanted was a tub in the master bathroom,” says Janie about the simple request that kick-started the project. With one thing leading to another, the couple quickly found themselves in the middle of a major remodel and plans for an addition.
“When you walked through the entry, there was a huge brick fireplace on axis with the front door that totally blocked the views to the Continental Divide, and there was a second fireplace in the middle of the kitchen, dining room and family room,” says architect Kate Leggett, who removed the first one, repositioned the other, and made a series of changes to maximize the connection to the outdoors. “We elevated the window heights, added windows and doors, and raised the roof to get more light and views into the house.”
Removing a chimney that had been obscuring the loft above the dining room gave the formerly dark space new possibilities. “The balcony now has a rounded glass front, and it’s a beautiful space with a beautiful view,” says builder Rob Luckett, whose team also replaced the rickety spiral stair that led up to the loft. “The new staircase has 2-inch walnut treads and risers and a stainless-steel handrail with glass panels.”
In reimagining the interiors, the Browns sought a balance between elegant and casual. “They’re very family-oriented and laid-back,” says designer Andrea Schumacher. “They like to entertain, and they wanted every room to be comfortable.”
With this in mind, the home’s aesthetic emerged as an artful mix of modern and traditional. “Janie loves that Hamptons feel—clean and classic, but not stuffy,” Schumacher says. “White trim gives you that look, while the rich dark flooring feels more like Colorado.” Other nods to the local vernacular include stone columns and timber framing on the outside and interior accessories such as the dining room chandelier and sconces, which mimic tree branches.
Yet every room was designed to blend style and comfort. “People often want to throw a big sectional in the family room,” says Schumacher, who chose to have two sofas facing each other. “It gives it a more formal look, while making them deep and comfortable maintains that family room feel.”
The family room and kitchen—once separated by that giant brick fireplace—are now one big light-filled space. “I love the two blue swivel chairs, because you can be watching television in the family room, and then swivel around and talk to people in the kitchen,” Schumacher says. “It really bridges those two rooms.”
Meanwhile, the home’s detached garage, located 20 feet away from the house, remained problematic. “With the kids and the dog and carrying groceries in, it was hard in the winter,” says Janie about the decision to build an addition to link the two buildings. In response, Leggett created a two-story space that comprises the kids’ bedrooms, a mudroom, a lower-level family room for movie viewing, and a hallway that connects the structures.
“We wanted to make it kid-friendly, so as you come in from the garage there’s the mudroom with fun wallpaper in the cubbies,” say Schumacher. “Then there’s a huge yellow barn door that closes that whole section off, so when the kids are being crazy and loud their parents can just shut the door.”
As for the parents, they couldn’t be happier. “When you open up a house the way we did, it makes it a completely different entity,” Janie says. “Our kids just love it, and we love having friends over. We’re very proud of what we were able to create.”